Lance Roberson of PLance.org joined Steph to offer tips on garden recover post freeze and share ways to prepare your garden for any upcoming severe weather.

1. Don’t over care if damage occurred! 

Many things such as clipping off the dead leaves or providing fertilizer will encourage new growth. New growth is more susceptible to damage when/if we get another freeze, the plants need to focus on repair and recovery.

Make sure plants have water in their soil, let rest outdoors until threat of freeze has passed, or wait about a month if plants were moved indoors before major cleaning or clipping. Plants can use nutrients in damaged areas for repairing their core.

2. Some plants like or even need the cold period

Especially perennials and plants that are bulbs, even in pots don’t need or want to be taken in during cold weather. It may not be the beautiful plant that you want now, but letting this yearly cold period put your plant into senescence or dormancy is often very good for plants to complete their natural cycle of cleaning and rebirth!

3. Water before a freeze can save or help many plants 

The recent freeze had rainfall just before it hit. One of the reasons the freeze of 2021 was so devastating was because it was dry when it got cold. Giving your plants water before a freeze allows them to get what they need to be prepared for cold. 

Water is a great insulator! When it freezes it gives up some heat that the plants can absorb to survive, and frozen water makes a 32-degree blanket in very cold freezes.

4. Temperature is only one factor

Each plant will react differently. Horticulture is about individual plants needing individual attention.

Be particularly careful with succulents or cactus, they store the most water by volume, so freezes can be particularly rough. Minimal movement will go a long way in their recovery!

Plants that have flowers or fruit during a freeze, will often drop their fruit and flowers, they may rebloom or wait until next year, reducing total fruits helps reduce stress to the plants if badly damaged.

The younger the plant, the more susceptible to long term damage it will have, a seedling may be affected for the rest of its life, overall growth may be more compact, but a plant that survived a freeze will be stronger in subsequent years against freezes. 

5. Speed of temperature makes a difference

For example, if we go from 80 to 20 overnight. Mid-winter freezes are usually not as harsh because plants have had light frosts or freezes to signal winter processes.  

But don’t do this yourself! If you pull in your plant from 20 to 70 in your house you can do as much damage in the temp change as the freeze might, so if you overwinter in a protected area to keep your plants at their best, Lance generally suggests somewhere like the garage or a enclosed porch that will protect from the hardest freezes but don’t put the plant through a 50⁰ temperature swing in minutes.

If you have questions for Lance you can email him at Lance@Plance.org